Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Salon: Sylvester or The Wicked Uncle by Georgette Heyer

Rank, wealth and elegance are no match for a young lady who writes novels...

Sylvester, Duke of Salford, has exacting requirements for a bride. Then he encounters Phoebe Marlow, a young lady with literary aspirations, and suddenly life becomes very complicated. She meets none of his criteria, and even worse, she has written a novel that is sweeping through the ton and causing all kinds of gossip ... and he's the main character.
When a young woman feels slighted by a member of the ton, what else is she do but write an anonymously authored novel about how terrible he is - pompous, arrogant and dictatorial when it comes to the welfare of his young ward. She makes a thinly veiled attempt to hide the identity of the main characters - Sylvester, Duke of Salford.

Sylvester can be a bit pompous and aloof, always aware of his duty to his role and his family and particularly aware of his role as guardian of his young nephew. When he decides that he needs to find a wife, he is not looking for love and passion. He is looking for suitability more than anything, so he makes a list of the eligible females in the ton. Running the list of names past his mother, she suggests that he speaks to his godmother, who in turn adds one more name - that of her granddaughter Phoebe Marlow.

Phoebe lives with her father and her very overbearing stepmother who thinks that she is too spirited and must be tamed. When Phoebe hears that her father is bringing Sylvester home with a view to matrimony she panics. Her stepmother insists that she will behave properly and so the Phoebe that Sylvester finds is a somewhat insipid disappointment and he is determined that he will leave as soon as he possible can. However, Phoebe is  even more determined, and with the help of her childhood friend Tom she decides to escape to her grandmother's house in London.

What follows is a series of adventures that starts with an accident that leaves Tom with a broken leg, Sylvester being snowed in at the same inn as Tom and Phoebe, and ends with Tom and Phoebe being kidnapped by Sylvester's ditsy sister in law and her new husband on a ill thought out escape to France.

Along the way, Phoebe proves to Sylvester over and over that she is anything but the insipid miss he thought she was. She is always willing to point out his faults to him but he finds himself becoming more and more intrigued by her. That is until he figures out that she is the author of the book that has the ton abuzz!

I liked Sylvester a lot! Yes, he was pomp and arrogant but I am not sure what else to expect when you have been bought up to be a duke. We did however get to see his devotion to family, and quite often he didn't realise his own faults. He didn't like having them pointed out to him, but then again, who does.

Phoebe was a harder character to pin down for me. I don't think I ever really got why it was that Phoebe felt so strongly about Sylvester that she could target him in her book. She also was quite impetuous which led her to bring both herself and her family into situations that otherwise could have been avoided.

The path to true love never runs smooth, misunderstandings abound and there were times where I wondered if our hero and heroine were ever going to realise their feelings and act upon them. Ably assisted by a vibrant set of secondary characters including Tom and Phoebe's grandmother, the reader is taken from one adventure to the next. Little do our main characters realise it is the adventure of love!

Rating 4.5/5

Thanks to Sourcebooks for the review copy.


  1. I have really enjoyed all of the Heyers that I'veread. Imthink I bought this one during the huge Heyer sale!

  2. I know of Heyers but haven't read any yet. This looks delightful, though. Great review.

  3. I really liked this one. Even though Sylvester was an awful snob at times, he still had a very likable streak. I have heard that Richard Armitage is the reader for the audio book (which unfortunately is abridged) and have been contemplated buying it just to hear him tell the story again! :)

  4. I still haven't got to my Heyer books...I'm so slow!

  5. I really like this one, though it's one of those books I'm not *quite* certain if the couple will get along very well into happily ever after! Though I think they will- maybe a few hiccups along the way before they smooth out and become very content. I like both Sylvester and Phoebe- I think they complement each other very well, and I love the way Heyer portrayed Sylvester so sympathetically near the end.

  6. I am sure I would have enjoyed this one too :) Heyer is just so sweet

  7. I really really really have to read my first Heyer, right?

  8. Iris, yes. You are correct!

    Blodeuedd, I still have quite a few that I think I will enjoy to read.

    Aarti, I think you are right. They will still have some work to do but they will get there eventually.

    Sam, I owned the first one for years and still haven't read it! I ended up reading others before it.

    Danielle, I contemplated buying the audio book for exactly that reason! I also listened to an adaptation of another classic just because he was one of the narrators. #obsessedmuch?

    Pam, she has lots of fun books.

    Staci, I have enjoyed all the ones I have read too. Don't know why I am not reading them more regularly.

  9. I've never read one of these (and there are lots and lots, right?)

    My Sunday Salon is Quiet Before the Storm.

  10. I read my first Georgette Heyer novel this August (A Quiet Gentleman). It was fun, not my favorite, but I was glad to learn of her writing as she is so famous and quite beloved.

    I enjoyed skimming through your posts on the various RIP read-alongs, from Fragile Things to others. I'm all caught up in discovering Shirley Jackson now, with We Have Always Lived in The Castle and The Haunting of Hill House. Wish I had time to join you in the group reads.